Discover Your Purpose
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Do you know what your purpose is on this earth? Let’s look at how you can uncover and understand why you are here.
Everyone has an ultimate purpose in their lives. Those who know this purpose achieve far more than those who do not. According to the Oxford Languages dictionary, the simple definition of purpose is — “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.”
Do you understand what is behind what you do or create each day? Do you know why you exist? Let’s find some answers to help you better understand your future path.
This article and its ideas resulted from a conversation that Jane, my wife, and I had at breakfast. Between us, we have more than a century of experience and have spent considerable time contemplating our purposes and how to best spend our lives.
As we age, it is common to begin wondering about our reason for being. It hit Jane and me in our 40s. During this time, Rick Warren published his book, The Purpose Driven Life, which motivated many Christians to think about and seek their reason for being from a biblical perspective. But to understand this purpose, we must look at two other components to grasp who we are and why we are here.
“The purpose of our lives is to find the purpose of our lives.”Thomas Merton (1915–1968)
The three dimensions of purpose
During that breakfast conversation, Jane and I noticed three distinct components that helped us understand our purpose for existing. We concluded that for anyone to become clear on their life purpose, they must look at three dimensions as follows:
Let’s examine each and how they help us better understand our life purpose.
Life and relationships are inseparable.
“The purpose of relationship is not to have another who might complete you, but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.” Neale Donald Walsch (1943-present)
Have you considered how crucial and meaningful relationships are? How would your life be without them? Can life even exist without relationships? No. They are inextricably linked.
Our need for others begins at birth. An infant cannot survive without someone’s care. Every person must have relationships to be complete.
Even the most extreme introverts require someone in their lives. Everyone you meet influences you somehow, and you likewise influence them, regardless of how little the impact may be.
“Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you.” Mike Murdock (1946-present)
As human beings, we are social creatures and do not function well without being connected with other people. Their influence on us is profound, touching every part of our lives. Relationships affect who we are and who we are becoming. These connections are necessary and critical to every functional society. To lose all contact with others is unthinkable.
Case in point, did you know solitary confinement is considered the cruelest form of punishment? To learn more about this subject, check out:
Every test Jane and I have taken shows her as an extrovert and me as an introvert. We each have a relational purpose and influence others while they influence us. No matter how little the influence is, it is impossible not to be influenced by every relationship from the beginning to the end of life. Give it some thought, and you will understand.
Take some time to reflect on the people in your life. Ask yourself the following question for each person that comes to mind:
Why am I in ____________’s life?
What impact have I had on their life?
How am I different because of this impact?
How does each relationship affect who I am?
These questions can help you understand this significant dimension of your purpose.
Work is essential
“When you live for a strong purpose, then hard work isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.” Steve Pavlina (1971-present)
Have you heard the old saying, “We are human beings, not human doings?” There is some truth in it, yet it is not entirely accurate. While we are “beings,” we were put on this earth to “work.” Working requires action, which means you must “do,” meaning we are human “beings” designed to work. We do this work by using our natural and acquired gifts and talents.
To work or to do covers a wide range of activities. It can apply to our growth, education, parenthood, relationships, jobs/careers, and many other endeavors.
Undoubtedly, human beings must work as we have throughout history to survive. Unless someone is seriously incapacitated, it is only natural to work. Many of us even find our identity in it.
Work is necessary to provide our loved ones with food, shelter, and a decent living. While you may or may not enjoy your work, it can help you understand why you are where you are and the impact you are making.
Work can be fulfilling when approached correctly. It helps you find your place in the world and to make a difference. To work is to serve, which has the potential to bring great satisfaction.
Those who enjoy work are doubly blessed, especially when it helps them understand this crucial part of their purpose.
Why not take a few minutes to reflect on your work so far? What have you enjoyed and disliked? Where have you succeeded and had difficulty? Ask yourself the following questions:
What purpose does work serve in my life?
Where is the work I do taking me?
How is the work I do shaping my life?
Who am I becoming because of the work I do?
We are spiritual beings living in a physical body
“The whole purpose of [our] spiritual [being] is to penetrate beneath the surface of a man’s life… to bring out… what we call the likeness of Christ in his soul.” Thomas Merton (1915–1968)
While you cannot see the spirit world, it affects every area of life. Most of us know we are incomplete without a spiritual connection to God. This connection is central to Christianity through our faith in God and Jesus Christ. God helps us discover what the physical world alone cannot — our eternal purpose for existence.
Belief in God requires faith in something we cannot see with our eyes and cannot touch. We possess it deep inside, and the measure of our faith is a gift from God that can help us know His purpose for our lives. The fact that we are forgiven, cleansed, and will spend a brief time on this earth and an eternity in heaven can help us discover our purpose when we seek it.
A direct way to find our purpose in life is to think about the legacy God is calling us to leave. One day our work here will stop, and our relationships on earth will end. We will leave something behind because of what we did or didn’t do and how we treated people. Knowing our purpose helps us build that legacy.
We function better in this world because of the connection our faith in God creates, helping us develop a deeper understanding of the world, all we do, and our relationships. Through prayer and contemplation, we can find peace in this troubled world. How could any purpose be complete without recognizing the importance of our spiritual life in Christ?
In seeking God’s purpose, ask yourself:
How does seeking God touch my life’s practical pursuits (education, work, career, etc.)?
How does faith influence my relationships?
Am I on a growth path in my spiritual life? How does this affect me and who I am becoming?
How does Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples” influence my purpose?
Work on your life
Have you considered the importance of stepping back to look at what you are doing with your life? We become consumed with work, interacting with others, the news, social media, and much more. We suffer from too much to do and too little time, often missing or dismissing opportunities to work on ourselves.
If you never stop to look at your life from the perspective of what you are doing and where you are heading, who knows where you will wind up? When we work in our lives like this, we focus on the trees (what is in front of us) instead of seeing the forest (the bigger picture).
To live your best life, you must work on your life by stopping now and then, stepping back, and carefully examining each of the three dimensions of purpose to become crystal clear about the ultimate meaning of your life.
To learn more about working on vs. working in your life, check out this informative article:
Be patient as you start the journey to uncover your purpose. For many of us, our purpose becomes more apparent as we age. To learn it, we must become aware of what we are doing, who we are affecting, who affects us, and who we are becoming. That’s why it is good to put time aside to examine your life. Your purpose will become evident the more you seek it.
You can wander through life or find your purpose in it. I challenge you to seek your purpose and the great treasure it will bring you and all those you love!